How Can We Support Artists and Venues?

with widespread event cancellations, artists and venues are hurting; here’s some ideas how you can help

Eric Christenson, photos by Lee Butterworth |

Art, in all its iterations, thrives on interaction. With concerts canceled, tours postponed, ad all kinds of gatherings shut down, artists are losing work quickly and venues’ business is dropping fast. So many unknowns are swirling around, and the future’s pretty unclear. But how can we, as a community, step up now and help our local artists and venues get through this trying time? Well, here are a few ideas.

1. Buy gift cards or apparel from venues

Sure, we’ve heard about the gift card thing. But every week and weekend that goes by without events happening means lost income. A gift card may not be much, but a little bit goes a long way to help these venues survive, so that one day we can all enjoy stuff happening there in the future.

2. Buy art directly from the artist

If you’re looking for ways to keep artists creating, simply buy their work. For bands and musicians, the most direct way to support them is to buy music on sites like Bandcamp. Most local bands have Bandcamp pages where you can buy mp3s, merch, physical albums, and more. (And for sales made on Friday, March 20, Bandcamp is waiving its share of revenue, which means more money in musicians’ pockets.) For visual artists and others, consider commissioning work from them and pay them directly. Check out artists’ websites, or Society6 accounts, to buy stuff at the source.

3. Donate to crowdfunding campaigns

If you’re able, keep tabs on local crowdfunding campaigns. Some artists and venues have Patreon or GoFundMe campaigns set up to get them through these trying times (often with sweet rewards for contributions). Be aware of what’s out there, and be generous if you can.

4. Order delivery or carryout from restaurants / cafés / breweries that host live events

Many of our local music venues are also restaurants, bars, cafés, breweries, or retail spaces. They’re most likely only operating at a very limited capacity right now, and they’re definitely not hosting events. But if you can buy some beer, coffee, takeout, or apparel from a place that hosts live events, that directly helps them stay afloat for the time being. Most restaurants still have takeout options, and retail spaces are still taking online orders.

5. Take some virtual music lessons

Learn a new instrument, and help support local musicians at the same time. Local creatives could use the income, and you could use all this downtime to take up a new passion. This isn’t necessarily just limited to music, either. Local visual artists might be considering doing some virtual photography, painting, or graphic design lessons as well. Look into it, and don’t be afraid to reach out!

6. Tune in to local virtual concerts and shows

Several artists have already been sharing their work via livestream on Facebook Live, Twitch, and more platforms. Local comedy shows are going virtual for the time being. Keep tabs on when and how artists will be doing live streams so they can feel your support from across the waves of the inter webs. Plus, if you’re feeling stir-crazy, you might need some unique entertainment to get you through.

7. Stream local music as much as you can

This is kind of a bare minimum idea (as streaming platforms like Spotify give out notoriously stingy royalties per stream), but any little bit helps. For better or worse, artists do get paid from most streaming services, and they could use the bump now more than ever. Prioritize streaming local stuff, and as an added bonus, you might discover something you love!